Last week I took a Soul Retreat.
I got on a crowded fishing boat and traveled to one of the islands on Lake Victoria. It was a time for reflection,
renewal, and writing. In upcoming blog posts, you’ll find many of the stories I wrote.
They are simply from my heart to yours. Enjoy!
It’s a long way from Choupique to Nimule.
Chances are I’m one of the few people who knows where both Nimule and Choupique are.
Bubba Hoezler does.
He’s from Choupique, Louisiana.
And he has a new Polaris Ranger waiting for him in Nimule, South Sudan.
I first met Bubba and his wife, Cathy, in the Nairobi (Kenya) Airport. I was one of three Louisiana men enduring a seven-hour layover.
Bubba came over. “Y’all sound like you’re from the South.”
“So do you.”
He smiled. “Where are you from?”
“Well, so am I.”
“What part?” (This is the part of the game that every Louisianan dreads. Any conversation will mention sooner or later mention New Orleans (which we don’t always care for).[MU2]
“Near Lake Charles.”
“Do you know where Sulphur is?”
“I bet you’ve never heard of Choupique?”
I surprised him. “I know exactly where it’s at. I preached at Choupique Baptist a few months ago.”
He slapped my shoulder. “My daddy leads the singing there.”
That was my introduction to Bubba and Cathy Hoezler. We enjoyed their company all the way to Houston Airport. They worked in Sudan and hadn’t been home in five years. I helped eased their reentry into culture with Jerry Clower stories on my iPhone. I remember Bubba’s comment as he bought an airport coffee. “I can’t remember the last time I handled paper money. Last week, I traded a bucket of nails for a jerry can of diesel.”
Strangely, I’ve not seen them since.
Bubba and Cathy Hoezler
But I keep up with them through the Internet and mutual friends.
They work for a wonderful sister organisation. Cathy is a P.A. and runs a clinic in one of the large refugee camps on the Sudan/South Sudan borders. Bubba is an oil field hand who can work on anything.
That comes in pretty handy in Africa.
A few months ago I followed the difficulty Bubba and Cathy were having getting a new vehicle into South Sudan.
Not just any vehicle.
A new Polaris Ranger 4WD.
You may not be cultured enough to know about the class of 4WD vehicles known as “Off Road 4WD Personal
They’re a cross between a 4 wheeler and truck.
There’s the John Deere Gator.
The Kawasaki Mule
And the Polaris.
You may not believe it, but I know men that would trade their wife for one of those rigs.
It’s a woods running/deer hunting/off road machine.
With South Sudan’s rainy season approaching and knowing the narrow trails winding throughout refugee camps, I could just imagine their Polaris allowing Bubba and Cathy’s to get to inaccessible locations for their Jesus-work.
It’s made or getting in and out of tough places.
The problem was that Bubba and Cathy couldn’t get their Polaris out of a really tough place: South Sudan customs at the Nimule border.
Vehicle importation is a headache in this part of Africa.
Customs fees, import taxes, and open palms can jack the price up to nearly double the original price.
Customs at Nimule was demanding thousands of dollars to import the Polaris.
It sat for weeks at the border.
I sent an email urging Bubba to link up with one of my friends with Far Reach Ministries or FRM as it is called. FRM trains chaplains for the South Sudanese Army or SPLA.
It’s a great ministry operated by Americans Wes and Vicky Bentley since 1999.
I never heard about the Polaris again.
Mid-December brought war to South Sudan and the mass displacement of hundreds of thousands.
Including Bubba and Cathy.
They were forced to leave their refugee camp work due to the instability.
They landed in Nairobi and like all of us, waited for the smoke to clear.
Last week, our team was in Nimule. We stayed at Far Reach Ministries. In the parking lot, sat a brand new __ Polaris.
I’ll admit to breaking the Ten Commandments. I coveted it.
As my friend Gary Marler would say, “I wished it belonged to me and the owners had another one just like it.”
Seriously, I knew who the owners were.
It was Bubba and Cathy’s.
Waiting to make its trip up north to Dori Refugee Camp.
I was reminded of God’s timing.
If the Polaris had made the journey as planned, it probably wouldn’t be stolen or looted after our folks left.
I saw on Facebook that Bubba and Cathy have made an exploratory trip back to Dori Camp in unstable Upper Nile. Lord willing, they will be back home.
And that Polaris will have made its journey from Choupique to Sulphur to Mombasa to Nairobi to Kampala to Nimule.
And finally to its use for optimum use in Upper Nile, South Sudan.
I hope it’s not a sin to pray for a vehicle. I’m not talking about praying to have a Polaris. (Although that is a thought.) I’m referring to praying for a vehicle as in,
“Lord, take this Polaris and get it to Upper Nile state.
Take it and use it for your glory.
As Cathy practices her healing ministry.
As Bubba works on water wells and faulty carburetors.
Thanks for the folks back home
Who sacrificed to provide this 4WD.
Keep the Polaris safe.
Keep our friends healthy and safe.
Bring your peace to all of South Sudan.
May this rig be a vehicle of your love.
May it carry the Gospel to the white fertile fields of the Camps.
In Jesus’ name.
P.S. Lord: Long may it run. Long may it run.
Follow the Hoezler’s work at http://www.hopeforeverynation.com
Learn more about Far Reaching Ministries and it’s work in supplying Chaplains to the South Sudanese army or SPLA as it’s known.